Ophthalmologist Salary Guide

The ophthalmologist salary is one of the highest in healthcare. This is owed to the high amounts of education through which people with the ophthalmologist salary have to go. A high number of benefits joins the already highly optimistic salary.

Often confused with optometrists, ophthalmologists are actual medical doctors. While optometrists aren’t certified to write prescriptions, diagnose diseases, or perform surgery, they can perform medical exams. People with the ophthalmologist salary, meanwhile, can handle any optical situation.

ophthalmologist salary

Factors that Influence the Ophthalmologist Salary

According to payscale.com, the average ophthalmologist salary was reported at $198,386 per year in 2015. The hourly and yearly ophthalmologist salary sorted by percentile are in the table below:

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%
Hourly Wage $27.21 $53.67 Greater than $90 Greater than $90 Greater than $90
Annual Wage $56,590 $111,630 Greater than $187,200 Greater than $187,200 Greater than $187,200

Like with most medical specialties, the salary of an ophthalmologist is closely tied to a number of factors. The most common factors are the place of employment’s geographic location, the industry of the profession, and each employee’s experience.

Some of these factors are so influential, that they can raise or lower the ophthalmologist salary by more than $150,000. So, let’s see which of these factors determines the highest ophthalmologist salary.

Geographic Area

First of all, getting a job in the right location can have a huge impact on the ophthalmologist salary. Regardless of the exact ophthalmologist job description, the areas still follow the same patterns when it comes to the salary.

For example, the pediatric ophthalmologist salary is clearly higher than the ophthalmologist assistant salary. However, under the right circumstances, even an assistant could make more than a pediatrician. It all depends on the ophthalmological needs of each region, as well as on their economy.

Below, we compiled a series of tables for the states and areas with the highest ophthalmologist salary and employment levels. Because we have to focus on the US-wise ophthalmologist salary, we won’t cover Canada, Australia, or any other countries.

The states with the highest levels of employment for ophthalmologists can be found in the table below:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York 40,180 4.56 1.98 $80.39 $167,210
California 22,660 1.50 0.65 $90.66 $188,560
Texas 17,190 1.53 0.66 $97.04 $201,840
Ohio 16,080 3.09 1.34 $87.58 $182,160
Illinois 15,590 2.70 1.17 $88.45 $183,970

Meanwhile, the states offering the highest salaries for the profession are:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Minnesota 3,930 1.44 0.62 $113.05 $235,150
South Dakota 330 0.82 0.35 $111.79 $232,530
New Hampshire 1,810 2.88 1.25 $111.32 $231,550
Montana 1,120 2.52 1.09 $110.04 $228,880
Wyoming 340 1.19 0.52 $108.80 $226,310

The metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels for the ophthalmologist position are the following:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York – White Plains – Wayne, NY – NJ Metropolitan Division 27,220 5.05 2.19 $73.15 $152,140
Chicago – Joliet – Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division 11,040 2.94 1.28 $82.78 $172,180
Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta, GA 7,360 3.08 1.34 $100.82 $209,710
Boston – Cambridge – Quincy, MA NECTA Division 7,100 3.95 1.72 $68.98 $143,480
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division 6,610 1.63 0.71 $103.23 $214,720
Nassau – Suffolk, NY Metropolitan Division 5,850 4.63 2.01 $100.27 $208,570
Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick, MD Metropolitan Division 5,670 10.02 4.35 $79.37 $165,090
Washington – Arlington – Alexandria, DC – VA – MD – WV Metropolitan Division 5,040 2.12 0.92 $97.50 $202,800
Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor, OH 4,560 4.50 1.95 $70.43 $146,490
Indianapolis – Carmel, IN 4,360 4.65 2.02 $100.35 $208,720

The metropolitan areas which offer the highest ophthalmologist salary are:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Terre Haute, IN 140 2.03 0.88 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Pocatello, ID 120 3.44 1.49 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Napa, CA 80 1.25 0.54 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Michigan City – La Porte, IN 110 2.67 1.16 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Merced, CA Not released Not released Not released Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Kankakee – Bradley, IL 30 0.81 0.35 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Houma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux, LA 80 0.76 0.33 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Florence – Muscle Shoals, AL 110 2.16 0.94 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Elkhart – Goshen, IN 80 0.64 0.28 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Eau Claire, WI 100 1.21 0.53 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200

The nonmetropolitan areas with the highest rates of employment are the following:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Southwest Maine nonmetropolitan area 570 2.96 1.28 $107.04 $222,640
Northeast Florida nonmetropolitan area 530 3.77 1.64 $111.71 $232,350
North Central West Virginia nonmetropolitan area 460 3.26 1.41 $110.95 $230,780
Southern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area 450 3.57 1.55 $86.46 $179,830
South Illinois nonmetropolitan area 450 3.19 1.39 $107.45 $223,490

Finally, the nonmetropolitan areas with the highest ophthalmologist salary are:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Northern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area Not released Not released Not released Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area Not released Not released Not released Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area 140 0.85 0.37 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Sussex County, Delaware nonmetropolitan area 130 1.74 0.75 Greater than $90 Greater than $187,200
Southern Indiana nonmetropolitan area 190 1.19 0.52 $124.09 $258,110

Experience

Like with most medical specialties, the level of experience of each employee can influence the ophthalmologist salary by a lot. In fact, after a career longer than twenty years, the average ophthalmologist salary can grow by more than $70,000.

While not as important a determinant as the geographic area, experience is also very relevant. In fact, we’ve compiled the salary path for someone with a career longer than twenty years. According to payscale.com, the ophthalmologist starting salary is around $183,000 in 2015. This is the estimated salary path:

  • From $183,000 to $203,000 over the first five to ten years on the job;
  • Between $203,000 and $252,000 over the first ten to twenty years on the job;
  • From $252,000 to $225,000 after more than twenty years of experience.

One of the most interesting things about the ophthalmologist salary is that it declines with experience. This rarely happens for professions in the field of medicine. The reason behind it is that skills decline with old age. As dexterity, stamina, and perception decrease with age, so do the responsibilities of an ophthalmologist.

Industry

Just like with the other factors we’ve discussed, the ophthalmologist salary is influenced significantly by the industry of the profession. For example, an ophthalmological neuro surgeon will get paid more than a veterinary ophthalmologist. Similarly, the ophthalmologist salary will be in a different range for a teacher than for a retinal technician.

The industries with the highest employment levels for individuals with the ophthalmologist salary are as follows:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Offices of Physicians 140,920 5.74 $107.49 $223,580
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 97,820 1.86 $69.65 $144,870
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 31,990 1.62 $95.16 $197,930
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 9,840 0.33 $51.33 $106,760
Outpatient Care Centers 9,800 1.40 $105.03 $218,460

Finally, the industries with the highest-paying salaries for the occupation are:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Offices of Dentists 140 0.02 $115.89 $241,060
Management of Companies and Enterprises 450 0.02 $111.91 $232,770
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 5,070 2.03 $111.07 $231,040
Offices of Physicians 140,920 5.74 $107.49 $223,580
Computer Systems Design and Related Services Not released Not released $105.39 $219,200

Work Hours

In 2013, the average work week for someone with the ophthalmologist salary was around 47 hours long. That is without taking into account any extra hours or the on-call rotation. Of course, the work hours also come in the form of shifts and overtimes. Meanwhile, the on-call rotations of ophthalmologists are some of the laxest in the medical industry. This is because of the relative rarity of emergency optical surgeries.

As for overtimes, they are still a very common practice. Fortunately for the profession, extra hours are actually paid quite a lot – unless you are a junior. Plus, most professionals with the ophthalmologist salary also tend to work in clinics and other outpatient departments.

Bonuses and Benefits Packages

The ophthalmologist salary is often joined by a variety of bonuses, profit sharing, and commission opportunities. Bonuses can get as high as $65,000 a year, while profit sharing can bring in another $10,000. This can bring the already superior ophthalmologist salary to more than $350,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the benefits packages which come with the ophthalmologist salary are not to be overlooked. Other than a very satisfactory 401(K) plan, most ophthalmologists also get a fair number of paid and sick leave days. About 76% of all ophthalmologists get medical insurance, while 45% get dental. Only 28% get vision, while 23% get no insurance whatsoever.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they estimated the employment rate for the profession to go up 14%. That is owed to several factors. Among the most important are the constant developments in the world of ophthalmology. Similarly relevant is the increased strain put on our eyes by our increasingly more technological society.

Many other positions in healthcare are only made more and more redundant by our constantly evolving technology. However, the ophthalmologist job description seems to be as sought-after as ever.

Like most medical specialties, ophthalmologists receive some of the highest salaries in healthcare. Unlike most of them, however, the ophthalmologist salary is joined by one of the most stress-free job descriptions out there.

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